Make Quick Compost
If you've only had limited success with composting, try this easy version. Crumble, grind, or shred two bushels of leaves, grass, and other organic matter into a 30-gallon black plastic garbage bag. Add 2 gallons of water, 2 to 6 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer, one shovel of soil, and 1 cup of lime. Tie the bag and leave it in a sunny spot for about a month, turning it over every second day. Store the compost in the bag until ready to use.
Plant Fall Crocus and Colchicum
Add a new dimension to your garden with fall-blooming bulbs. Colchicum autumnale has lavender or white flowers in September. Plants are shade-tolerant, deer-proof, and hardy in Zones 4-9. Fall crocuses, including Crocus speciosus, C. byzantinus, and C. kotschyanus, tolerate shade and bloom in October. Saffron crocus (C. sativus) blooms in October and bears the 3-branched stigma used in cooking. Plant these fall bulbs 4 inches deep.
Plant Fall Turnips
Quickly maturing in only about six weeks, turnip varieties such as 'Tokyo Cross', 'Hakurei', and 'White Lady Hybrid' are a sweet, crispy addition to fall salads. The turnips also can be cooked, plus the tops make excellent greens. Sow seeds now 1/4-inch deep and 1 inch apart. Thin to 4 inches apart. Harvest when the roots are 2 to 3 inches in diameter. A little frost won't hurt them, but dig before the ground freezes.
Assist Self-Sowing Flowers
Many annuals and biennials self-sow in the garden. Give them a helping hand by harvesting the ripened dried seed pods, putting them head first into a paper bag and shaking the seeds free, then spinkling the seeds in the garden where you want them. Before sowing, loosen the soil and rake it smooth. Some plants to try include forget-me-nots, nicotiana, love-in-a-mist, spider flowers, foxgloves, and sweet rocket.
The best time to harvest herbs for drying is just before they bloom when their flavor is most intense. But don't hesitate to harvest them whenever you can. The best time to harvest is in the morning as soon as the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot. Remove the leaves from the stems and spread them out to dry. Use a screen in a dark, warm place; a dehydrator; or place them on a large baker's cooling rack set over a cookie sheet in an oven at the lowest possible setting.